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Chilmonik censure vote expected today

By Staff | Oct 20, 2009

The Lee County School Board will vote on whether to censure board member Robert Chilmonik during tonight’s action meeting.
A resolution to censure Chilmonik was introduced two weeks ago by fellow board member Jeanne Dozier, who claims that he “was extremely critical of the school district, its staff and its students,” and that his criticism of final decisions “is detrimental to the successful operation of the Lee County School Board.”
The board was also upset at Chilmonik’s letter to President Barack Obama where he used outdated stationary identifying him as vice chairman of the board. They also said the stationary tacitly included the entire board without agreement from all members.
Although the resolution was presented Oct. 6, acting vice chairman Steve Teuber said the board could not address it until the action meeting. Dozier’s response was to hold the resolution until tonight.
If censured, Chilmonik faces a public admonishment from his fellow board members but is not in risk of being taken off the board. Only a decree from the governor could remove him from office.
Chilmonik labeled the censure resolution as a waste of time.
“If we spent as much time as we spend on this censure motion looking at education issues, just think about how we can improve education,” he said.
He added that 60 percent of students in Lee County are failing the FCAT reading exam, 70 percent are not on grade level in science and that he brings these facts up in meetings to find a way to improve achievement.
Furthermore, he said he will not remain silent on issues he feels are important.
“It is hypocrisy at its highest and is a crude attack to silence the voice of the people,” said Chilmonik. “I won’t be silent, I’m going to represent my constituency.”
In a guest opinion sent to local media, Dozier said the resolution is not meant to censor or silence Chilmonik, but instead to penalize him for refusing to follow board procedure, wasting staff time compiling information related to his accusations and “thriving on negativity.”
“Mr. Chilmonik can continue to ask questions and express his opinions — and I want him to — but he should honor the processes and procedures every one has agreed upon,” she said.